Version classiqueVersion mobile

Masterpieces of History

Svetlana Savranskaya
Thomas Blanton
Vladislav Zubok


Document No. 8: Transcript of CC CPSU Politburo Session, November 13, 1986

Traduction de Anna Melyakova

Texte intégral

1In this record of the Soviet Politburo meeting immediately following the Political Consultative Committee meeting in Bucharest, Gorbachev gives a markedly positive assessment of the socialist countries’ willingness to reform. He reports that “our friends” have now accepted perestroika, self-reliance, and the changes in relations he argued for in June, and recounts positive conversations with Husdk, Kdddr, Zhivkov, and even an approving comment by Ceauşescu, whom he describes as running a “dictatorship” and “dynastic socialism.” But a disquieting note sounds in Gorbachev’s report of his private conversation with the ally he most respects—Jaruzelski. The Polish leader warns, “I look at my colleagues [and know] that nothing will come of them. Ceauşescu will do none of what we agreed to. And others simply will not be able to: they are old and have fallen behind. Let the two of us … pull the load together.” Despite this, Gorbachev goes on below to express his “sense of confidence that the problems can be solved, in the USSR and in the Community.” And his Politburo colleagues duly chime in, including Prime Minister Nikolay Ryzhkov, who declares: “I believe this to be a historic change.” Absent in this discussion is any mention of the precipitous decline in oil prices during 1986, which would ultimately undercut whatever economic leverage Gorbachev still had with the socialist allies.



2Gorbachev: The meeting was unprecedented in the scope of the problems discussed, in its composition and atmosphere. It will help in bringing the fraternal parties together and developing the collaboration of the socialist countries. One could say that during this meeting we achieved more results than ever before. These results wholly and completely correspond to our party’s policies.

3First point: the meeting marked the ratification of the XXVII Party Congress within the framework of the socialist community. If until now this line was adopted only at separate congresses, and even then not entirely, now in essence the conceptions of acceleration, perestroika, and energizing the human factor are accepted by our friends as the general line. This is the most important political outcome of the meeting.

4It is true that this process is not yet complete. But it is a difficult process. Now we can say that our friends have understood all the Congress’ ideas and the approaches to policies. By the way, they adopted the XXVII Congress under pressure from the workers and the party masses. In this way, under different circumstances, the CPSU ensures its vanguard position on the basis of equality of rights and independence.

5Second point: the principles of relations within the community were announced, and were supported by everyone. Ceauşescu was especially pleased: finally, he said, “his conception” was adopted.

  • 1 General Secretary (1954-1981 First Secretary) of the Bulgarian Communist Party CC, chairman of the (...)

6Our friends thankfully acknowledged the fact that we self-critically evaluated our past and took responsibility for it. Zhivkov1 said: “The USSR is speaking of itself in this way for the first time.”

7Third point: the practical outcome is that we opened the way for the radical reconstruction of collaboration within the community. Everything will be based on self-reliance.

8Fourth point: we were right to invite non-European members of the community. But it also became clear that the issue of less-developed countries within CMEA has not been worked through. The passivity toward this problem is evident. They look at it this way: let the USSR help. And some (the GDR, Hungary) even want to squeeze out something for themselves from the others’ underdevelopment.

9But there are also signs that the “underdeveloped” countries are changing. Fidel, for example, seems to have understood that he made a mess of things. Vietnam is setting realistic goals for its forthcoming Congress. They are inclined toward counting on a resolution of the food products problem, counting on the manufacturing goods, and counting on the individual. In a word, the re-evaluation is beginning.

10We froze [zamorozili] so much money there! I propose to create a separate program for the less-developed CMEA members. And we should discuss it at one of the next meetings with the leaders of the socialist countries.

11Fifth point: the question of collaboration in the sphere of (ideological) fine tuning had a special place. […] There was more criticism about this sphere than about the economy. Here, as well, Jaruzelski was the most substantive [speaker].

12Ceauşescu is aiming to isolate himself within CMEA.

13In general many thoughts were expressed. This is particularly important in the context of fine tuning. We do not have a serious conceptualization of the last 70 years since [the] October [Revolution], or of the last 40 years that we have worked together with our friends.

14There were proposals to have CC secretaries who deal with international issues meet regularly for purposes of strategic cooperation. Why don’t the CC secretaries of agriculture, or the economy in general, also convene?

15Issues of coordination and information-sharing should be solved simply: meet without any kind of strict schedule—leave in the morning and come back in the evening. It would be a quick, concrete, and direct exchange of opinions. […]

16We have never heard such evaluations of Soviet foreign policy. Our colleagues did not restrain themselves in their praise. It was even uncomfortable to sit and listen to all of it.

17We have truly made large-scale advances. It has become easier for them to act […] and to coordinate their actions with us. […]

18Ceauşescu proposed removing intermediate-range missiles from the “package.” But he was too late […]

19The CC Departments are to go over all the ideas proposed at the meeting. Each department is to make a selection according to their specialization and to create a plan to carry out or to respond to the suggestions.

20I am not sure what we are proposing to do for the 70th anniversary of October. […] An informal meeting of delegations that will arrive for the celebrations? The general secretaries of the socialist countries support this idea. But I think we should invite not only communists but everyone who is interested. Let the monolith of the International Communist Movement unite all sides.

21Themes? There can be a variety. For example, “October and the World,” “Marx and the World,” “Lenin and the World.” […] Whichever one we choose, we will still be talking about socialism. We have to think everything through. Let the CC Secretariat propose something.

22What else should we mention about the meeting of the general secretaries?

23Ceauşescu kept repeating his own thing, and worse than before, especially on international issues. He spoke excessively, with much demagoguery. For example: “we should speak about communism in a tactical sense, and our strategy is—‘Toward Communism’!” He cast a shadow over perestroika with these words. And—“What is the point of going through perestroika? In Romania we went through it a long time ago!” It’s as if he should get a decoration for democracy, while Romania is really under a Ceauşescu dictatorship. […] He is for “socialism by inheritance,” for a “dynastic socialism.” He said: “there is no need for new forms of collaboration, but Romania will not be against using the new forms.”

24Fidel is happy. We saw and heard it with our own eyes and ears. He considers Africa to be the “weakest link” in the chain of imperialist domination, and the place where this chain should be broken. He complained of the poor arming of Cuban troops in Angola. He asked for General [Konstantin] Kurochkin to be returned to Angola. He asked me: why is the Pope coming to Latin America, but Gorbachev is not coming?

25Jaruzelski made the most energetic contribution. He has many problems, but I am sure that he will deal with them. When we were alone he said to me—I look at my colleagues [and know] that nothing will come of them. Ceauşescu will do none of what we agreed to. And others simply will not be able to: they are old and have fallen behind. Let the two of us, he said, pull the load together.

26Kádár—I would not say that he really enriched us with ideas this time. But he is a wise and flexible politician. He is unconditionally on our side. He does not really understand what is waiting for him at home. He does not have a feeling of concern.

27I told him: you need to take a political position. You are surrounded by some people who are longing for the USA’s embrace, and some who are sticking with the socialist countries. The latter are competent comrades, but they lack the political conceptualization for the necessary next steps.

28The American specialists and our [Abel] Aganbegyan (academician, economist) are giving you two years to find a solution. It would be good to create reserves in this period of time. We are concerned about you. I told him about our assignment to Ryzhkov about buying meat and grain. He reacted. It seems the Hungarians do not have anything to trade with the West. I told him that for now the USSR cannot really help. But you must use (at the upcoming HSWP Plenum) all of your authority to make the principal policy decision (vote).

29Nikolay Ivanovich [Ryzhkov], take everything into your own hands, invite the people, decide what you want to do, and how.

30In general, I encouraged Kádár.

31I had a good conversation with Husák. We discussed everything. He understood and appreciated our support, and asked us to help him realize the change. He left me a draft of his CC CPCz Plenum report. […]

32Vietnam is a large country, the people are strong. They are a reliable base in our strategic plans. […]

33Ryzhkov: I believe this to be a historic change. How formalistic we made our relations, what stereotypes and dogmas we collected over 30 years! We saw that life was moving forward, that everything was changing and we just kept repeating the same thing over and over again.

34Your concluding words at the meeting were impromptu, but they added a great deal to the main speech, which was important not only for them, but for us as well.

35Gorbachev: I felt that perhaps the CPSU was limiting the consequences of perestroika too much—for technology, the economy, etc. […]

36Ryzhkov: […] The issue of prices. We will have to make our way here as in a jungle. These past two years in CMEA we have only been doing cosmetic work, and now we see that the situation there does not correspond to the needs of its members.

37Shevardnadze: The most important thing is that people do not become disappointed. […] After all, the MFA is not really ready to change the way they work.

38On the question of economic advisers in embassies—are we going to take people from the highest posts for these positions again?

39Gorbachev: Make sure that everything that was said here and at the meeting is noted at Dobrynin’s [International Department]. […]

40All of the participants at the working meeting responded positively to our positions on the issue of relations among the fraternal parties, and to our ideas on the necessity for the entire system. […]

41In general it can be said that it is quite difficult to work with them, but this shows once again that our efforts must be balanced and persistent. […]

42Gorbachev: The session was rich in content. Our delegation did a good job. Now we need to act toward the goal of entering a new stage in the development of our collaboration with the CMEA countries. I would support Nikolay Ivanovich’s thought that we ourselves need to show more persistence in making decisions on the issues that are coming up. We need to look for partners with whom to establish direct connections more actively, and to involve the USSR Council of Ministers more broadly so that it can listen to the department heads on these issues and keep issues of economic collaboration under its control. Right now, on the other hand, our departments obtain capital investment from the government but do not use the options of resolving these issues through cooperation and direct connections, because that is more bothersome for them. If we are not active in this area, everything will remain as it used to be.

43Do we approve the draft regulations?

44Politburo members: Approve.

45The CC CPSU draft regulations on these issues are adopted.

46[Source: Archive of the Gorbachev Foundation, Fond 2. Opis 2. On file at the National Security Archive. Translated by Anna Melyakova.]


1 General Secretary (1954-1981 First Secretary) of the Bulgarian Communist Party CC, chairman of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria Council of State. [Footnote in the original.]

© Central European University Press, 2010

Conditions d’utilisation :


Volume papier
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search